I don’t care that you hate my tattoos.
When it comes to ink, everyone seems to have an opinion — whether you ask for it or not.
I was 19 years old when I got my first tattoo. It was the word “believe” on my wrist, and I literally cried when the artist was finished because I loved it so much. I went home for Easter break the day I got it, so when classes resumed the following Tuesday I was ecstatic to show it off. Here are some of the responses I heard that first day of class:
“I can’t even tell what it says.”
“You’re gonna want to hide that when you get a job.”
“But you’re so pretty—why did you get a tattoo?”
“How will that look with your wedding dress?”
“Well I would never get something like that.”
Needless to say these weren’t the responses I was expecting. Now I’m not saying that I need everyone to agree with my choices, or that I resent people who don’t have tattoos or don’t understand them. All I’m asking for is a little respect here, and all of my tatted friends pretty much agree with me.
In my experience, people generally don’t get tattoos for anyone other than themselves. People seem to be so quick to judge tattoos, to question them, and to express their distaste for them. It’s the same thing as if I were to criticize someone’s hair color to their face — just plain rude. The people I know who have gotten tattoos have usually done so for deeply personal reasons; I know my choices in ink have all been made based on life events or important people in my life.
This brings up another point.
Do not, I repeat, do NOT ask people the symbolism behind their tattoos.
If you ask me I will not tell you, and I’ll be offended that you asked. I know you’re curious. But it’s the equivalent of me asking to read your journal. If I want to be forthcoming about the reasons I got my tattoos, I will be. My wrist tattoo, for example: I got the word “believe” written in my mother’s handwriting. No further explanation needed. My back tattoo, however, I got for incredibly personal reasons.
As tattoos become more and more socially acceptable, more people are making the decision to get inked — and that’s a personal choice that should be respected. Bottom line here is that tattooing isn’t just a trend, or a girly 18th birthday present. It’s an art form that people use to increase their self-confidence, and to etch personal reminders into their skin. Tattoos allow us to become human works of art, and we don’t care what you have to say about it.
So the next time you find yourself about to make a comment about someone’s tattoos, stop and think about whether what you’re saying is sensitive and respectful. Because a tattoo becomes like an extension of the human body — when you comment about the ink, you’re really saying something about the person.